The myth of reverse racism

People of color face racism, white people do not

Last semester, The Syrinx published an opinion piece focusing on reverse racism and sexism (“Too Much Diversity,” Volume 34; Issue 4, pg. 8). When I first read it, the hurt and pain the writer wrote about experiencing reminded me of the hurt and pain I feel exists on campus for minority students. For this reason, I would like to respond and say that reverse racism and sexism are not real, and we should stop trying to make them real.

In truth, I feel that there is a lack of understanding about what racism is. The closest, and most historically accurate, definition of racism is a system of dominance, power, and privilege, rooted in the historical oppression of subordinated groups that are viewed by the dominant group as inferior, deviant or undesirable on account of their race. Legitimizing reverse racism takes power away from the oppressed and gives it back to the oppressor. As an idea, it distracts from the systemic inequities built up over time that white people are simply not subject to. Dealing with racism is a matter of dealing with the momentum of injustice that has been set in motion and has continued into the present.

I would like to make clear that this does not mean that white people don’t face prejudice. Any race group can show bias against another, and there is never justification for making someone feel threatened because of their skin color. Nevertheless, the prejudice that white people experience is not the same as racism.

Furthermore, the misconception that affirmative action only assists individuals

on account of their skin color is false. Affirmative action allows individuals who are already well-qualified to access equal opportunities. I personally work three jobs, and have to work twice as hard in order to prove that I am more than just my skin color. However, this is my story, I do not speak for every minority student.

Scholarships are not handed out just because your birth certificate identifies you as African American, Hispanic, Asian or any other minority race. A person has to apply for scholarships to receive this financial support. Yes, there are scholarships designated for specific groups of people; that is because the groups tied to these awards come from historically disenfranchised communities which have been prevented from attending post-secondary institutions in the past. A white person not getting an extra scholarship to come to school does not mean they are facing reverse racism. Most minority students on campus feel like outsiders because, historically, universities were not built for them.

The author of the original piece stated that “Diversity of thought is just as important, if not more, than diversity of population.” It is crucial, however, to understand that a portion of our thoughts and ideas are influenced by our racial and ethnic backgrounds. This means that we cannot acknowledge  diversity of thoughts without recognizing the factors that shape them.

Dealing with racism is a matter of dealing with the momentum of injustice that has been set in motion and has continued into the present.

Concerning the WASC campus visit; it is the organization’s job to make sure that colleges are providing quality education and moving forward as an inclusive institution in order to maintain their accreditation. They did not come to campus just to talk with students of color. They invited all students for one session, and all leaders on campus to another, separate session. And yes, they did have a separate meeting for students of color. WASC extending their invite to minority students is not wrong, because these students are underrepresented. To know that Fresno Pacific is giving them the same opportunity as their white peers, they have to hear it from them. As a black woman, I don’t just feel the stress from school work, but the stress that comes from trying to fit in a system that wasn’t open to black people 55 years ago. Considering the fact that, historically, this university has been a predominantly white culture, WASC’s invitation towards minority groups was an attempt to understand how such students are adapting.

Topics of discrimination and race are not presented to make white people feel guilty, unsafe or attacked; they are introduced in the hopes of starting a real conversation with those who still believe that reverse racism is real. I am all for creating a safe space in which everyone can  share their opinion, and I would never want anyone to feel unsafe in an environment where they should feel secure. My hope is that we learn to listen well so that we can have productive conversations around sensitive topics.

Samra Gebretsadkan is a senior political science major and SGA president

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